Trump, Abe in disagreement over seriousness of North Korea’s missile tests

US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have voiced radically different opinions over North Korea’s recent missile tests, which have overshadowed speculations about a possible revival of denuclearization talks on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump, who has long boasted of close relations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said Sunday that Pyongyang’s test-launch of two short-range missiles on Saturday did not violate any agreement for denuclearization talks.

“He [Kim] hasn’t been doing nuclear testing. He has done short range, much more standard missiles. A lot of people are testing those missiles, not just him,” Trump said during a meeting with Abe on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarittz, France.

Asked whether Kim’s authorization of the launches concerned him, Trump said: “I’m not happy about it, but again, he’s not in violation of an agreement.”

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As a basis for denuclearization talks, Trump and Kim agreed during their first meeting in Singapore in June last year that Pyongyang will stop nuclear tests but missile tests were not covered in the agreement.

The talks collapsed after the two leaders met for a second time in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi earlier this year, but abruptly ended the summit over differences of removing sanctions against North Korea.

Trump and Kim met for a third time at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas in June, where they agreed to resume talks. However, Pyongyang was put off by Washington’s decision to hold joint military drills with the South off the Korean Peninsula, a move that North Koreans have denounced as a threat to the talks.

The Saturday launches were Pyongyang’s seventh since the DMZ meeting between Trump and Kim.

Unlike Trump, who seemed unfazed by the tests, Abe said Sunday the launches breached United Nations resolutions that banned the missile launches and punished them with sanctions.

“I would like to make sure that we, meaning myself and President Trump, will always stay on the same page when it comes to North Korea,” Abe replied when asked whether he wanted Trump to take a closer position to his.

Abe said he still supported dialogue between the Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho made it clear on Friday that his country was ready or both dialogue and confrontation with the US, warning Washington that continuing unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang will be a” miscalculation.”

“If the US is still dreaming of achieving everything with sanctions, we must either let it dream on or shatter that dream,” Ri said Friday as quoted by North Korea’s state news agency KCNA.

“We are prepared for both dialogue and confrontation,” he further asserted. “If the US tries to confront us with sanctions and not abandon its confrontational posture, it would be a miscalculation.”

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